I just love this photo of Katherine Davies (from Irish Horse Imports) suspended in the air, floating around the dressage arena. Kate is such a lovely horsewoman, brilliant at riding all horses but I'm most impressed by the magic she works with the more sensitive/sharp ones. She gets their confidence, softly asks them to accept her leg, seat and rein, backs off for a few seconds when it's all too much for them, then starts the conversation again when she feels they are ready to let her in again. Kate has super timing and super feeling which is essential plus no fear and a balance with the horse that allows her to stay - erm - ON!
99% of the young horses that she imports are ready to go off to their new homes quite quickly after arrival, but Kate keeps those extra special ones that need a little more of her expertise and time, until the right person comes along for a perfect match.
Sophie Watkins is on the road to a very successful dressage career with her gorgeous mare Inca Spirit. I have a huge soft spot for both these young ladies. Inca is one of the loveliest mares I've had the pleasure to work with. She is a sensitive, intelligent, forward thinking, energetic, powerful young horse, which doesn't always make things easy in wintery conditions when she is also still growing but she does have a huge desire to please and I think she is a star in the making.
Sophie and I have been training together for a while with her previous horse Davidoff so she is already a well educated dressage rider but it's been interesting working and learning together in all the 'other areas' that are vital and to getting super dressage scores
- horse box loading (you gotta be in it to win it!)
- equine foot balance (no foot no horse!)
- puddle practice (you never know when there's gonna be one in your dressage test!)
- judges car in the arena practice (so you can get large round dressage arena especially when judge has put her windscreen wipers on!)
- getting to know Incas body so we can all see/feel when something has changed for the better or the worse.
- correct saddle fit and good saddle balance
- equine massage, physiology and bio mechanics
- ground work, in hand lateral work, lunging and long line training.
Phew. We are pooped!
It's not just the 30 mins your in the saddle doing your warm at the comp and the 6 minutes your in the ring, it's also all the vital behind the scenes work that is part of getting and improving those %'s.
Thankfully Sophie's dad is absolutely brilliant to work with and we have all shared so much fun whilst learning - inbetween the tears of frustration particularly whilst being battered by the weather.
It is all going to be worth it when Sophie gets a Union Jack on that jacket and Inca one on her numnah!
Nicky Reynolds (on her gorgeous bay mare Indie) is someone that has my total respect. You would never know it when you meet this young lady, but she wasn't given the best pair of lungs and very sadly the medication she has to take to keep her alive has some pretty horrific and painful side affects. But she refuses to let this stop her and even in winter is out there dancing her socks off. I love the BD judge for letting Nicky ride with a scarf covering her mouth so she didn't inhale the freezing cold air whilst riding Novice 24 at Checkendon.
I had a super weekend training with Charles de Kunffy at the TTT in March. Alfie was off colour over winter, not really sure with what as all the blood tests kept coming back saying he was fine, but he was just flat and i know my pony is always bursting with enthusiasm, so i just kept him gently ticking over. I was then dreadfully ill with a virus in January so it took us until February to start getting our act together.
I'm so proud of the passage he has now found (Thankyou to Andrew Murphy and Sara Jane Lanning for helping us get there). SO MUCH FUN - BOING BOING BOING!
And our homework is the tempi changes!